Good From the Ground Up
After a couple of years behind the counter of The Plow food truck and some time spent running the kitchen at B2 Café, Stephanie Wigger has decided to strike out on her own with a brick and mortar shop, Farm Fresh Bistro & Bakery.
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Farm Fresh Bistro & Bakery’s menu is full of classic cafe fare, like French dip sandwiches, broccoli-cheese quiche, beet salad, chicken salad croissants and chicken vegetable soup.
When my oldest friend in the world decided to come visit me from New Jersey, I immediately went into planning mode. I had three short days to try and make her love 417-land as much as I do. This is pretty much my goal when anyone I care about comes to visit. I’m always secretly hoping they’ll like it so much they’ll move here, preferably right next door to me. It hasn’t happened yet, but a girl can dream. In New Jersey, my friend happens to live two houses from the beach, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. And while we may not have beaches, 417-land has its own charm, and I was determined to show Erica as much of it as I could.
I’ve known Erica since we were 4 years old, and I know the fastest way to her heart is through her stomach. She might have the upper hand when it comes to boardwalk food—pizza, funnel cake, Philly cheesesteaks—but we definitely have her beat on the farm-to-
table dining scene. With an ever-growing roster of 417-land farms, the number of restaurants sourcing their products locally has significantly increased over the last few years. And what could be a better way to kick off Erica’s soon-to-be love affair with the Ozarks than to have her eat food that was grown right here? So, after I picked her up from the airport, we headed to Ozark to have lunch at Farm Fresh Bistro & Bakery, a small cafe that grows a lot of its own produce and focuses on healthy, made-from-scratch food.
Farm Fresh Bistro & Bakery is located inside SweetPea’s Vintage & More, a quaint shop filled with a mixture of antique and new items. We passed hand towels and rustic furniture as we made our way through the store and towards lunch. Once we got to the café and were seated, we ordered iced teas and turned our attention to the menu. It was full of your typical tearoom fare like quiches, sandwiches, soups and salads. What made this shop stand out was that about 50 percent of the produce and the beef and pork is grown on the owner’s farm. The restaurant and farm are a joint venture between Stephanie Wigger and her son Kendall Nakato. “The farm is his project, and the restaurant is my project,” she says. “So we’ve merged our projects.” The result is simple food made with quality ingredients.
We wanted to sample as much as we could, so we decided to order a bunch of items and share everything. I opted for the beet salad and a French dip sandwich. Erica ordered the chicken salad sandwich and a piece of quiche that came with a cup of chicken and vegetable soup. After swapping sandwich halves and rearranging our plates, we dug in.
The restaurant is located inside SweetPea’s Vintage & More in Ozark.
The crusty bread the French dip was on had a nice crunch and was perfect for dipping in the well-seasoned au jus sauce. The meat was tender and tasted more delicious due to the fact that I knew it was raised on a local farm and not in some horrid factory farm. There were several choices of quiche, and we opted for the broccoli and cheese. The flavor of the quiche was good, but the texture didn’t quite hit the mark. It was a bit on the chewy side for my liking. The beet salad, however, did not disappoint. Along with roasted beets, it had spinach, dried cranberries, Terrell Creek chevre, candied walnuts and red onions in it. It was topped with house-made honey balsamic dressing. Erica was particularly fond of the chicken salad, which was made with all white meat chicken, dried cranberries, red onion and mayonnaise and was served on a croissant. We both loved the chicken and vegetable soup. Sometimes the simplest dishes can be the most delicious.
In the end, I don’t think Erica will be leaving the shore and making the move to Springfield anytime soon. But I know that our lunch and the fun-filled weekend we had at least bought me a second visit.